DURANBAH BEACH, Australia (Monday, March 2, 2009) – Day 1 of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by LG Mobile is in the books, and the new guard of women's surfing announced their intentions with style, punch and bite in clean two-foot (0.75 metre) waves at Duranbah Beach.
Event No. 1 of 8 on the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast opted to relocate from the primary site of Snapper Rocks this morning to Duranbah Beach to take advantage of the conditions on offer, and in addition to the unparalleled dominance of reigning two-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, the 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookies took full advantage of the beachbreak conditions, claiming wins in four of the six Round 1 heats.
Gilmore, who is on the hunt for a third consecutive ASP Women's World Title in 2009, controlled her Round 1 heat from the outset today, easily dispatching of Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), 21, and trials winner Ashleigh Smith (AUS), 21.
"The conditions this morning were pretty hard actually – it was really small," Gilmore said. "The waves on the Gold Coast have been firing for the past two weeks, so it was a little disappointing, but at the same time there were some fun ones out there."
With the swell forecast for the event window becoming a challege, the possibility of various venues looms large for the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, but Gilmore's familiarity with her many local breaks gives the talented natural-footer great confidence moving forward.
“I am pretty confident and comfortable in any kind of waves on the Gold Coast I guess," Gilmore said. "I love all the pointbreaks and D-Bah is where I surf everyday. Wherever we are [I am looking forward to it].”
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, 2009 ASP Women's World Tour rookie, took command in a hard-fought Round 1 heat, scoring the highest heat total of the day, with an 18.77 out of a possible 20, to overtake Silvana Lima (BRA), 24, and Megan Abubo (HAW), 31.
"It was a good start to the event," Fitzgibbons said. "I was really looking forward to competing up here on the Gold Coast. We were lucky we had a good heat for waves. I was just looking to get on a roll to push me through the whole event.”
Fitzgibbons would lead the rookie charge on Day 1, an incredible showing that saw the new faces claim four of the six Round 1 heats.
"There has been a few upsets this morning," Fitzgibbons said. "All the rookies are doing really well which is great to see. We are all around the same age."
Not to be outdone, Lima, current ASP World No. 2, secured the first perfect 10-point ride of the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour season, for a flurry of blistering forehand maneuvers including an incredible mid-wave aerial.
“I am so happy with my heat and to get a 10.00 point ride is awesome," Lima said. "I keep thinking all the time about making an air in a contest and I got it finally in that heat so I'm feeling good.”
Alana Blanchard (HAW), 18, 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie, caused a big upset with her win over veteran surfers Amee Donohoe (AUS), 28, and Jacqueline Silva (BRA), 29. Blanchard secured an impressive 15.34 out of a possible 20 in her maiden ASP Women's World Tour victory.
"I think everyone is just really pumped for the first contest and everyone is really excited," Blanchard said. "I just wanted to wait for a good wave. I just sat there for a while. I was a bit nervous because the other girls got two waves but I ended up getting a good wave."
Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, 2009 ASP Women's World Tour rookie, wasted no time adjusting to the elite level of competition, posting an solid 15.06 out of a possible 20 in her Round 1 heat to overtake opponents Samantha Cornish (AUS), 28, and Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), 22.
"It's pretty cool, they have a lot of experience so it's pretty cool to beat them in my first heat ever," Hareb said. "I was pretty relaxed out there and when that wave came for me it made the heat go even better and made me more relaxed. I had a lot more fun.”
Chelsea Hedges (AUS), 25, returning former ASP Women's World Champion, caused the biggest upset of the day, relegating defending event winner Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 25, to the elimination Round 2 with some impressive surfing on both her forehand and backhand.
"It's always a bit nerve-wracking coming back after such a long break from the tour," Hedges said. "I've had such a great time off though. I've just been at home spending time with my family and having my daughter around. It has given me a who new approach to surfing because I can't just go whenever I want, so when I get out there I really enjoy it."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6am for a possible 7am start.
The Roxy Pro Gold Coast pres. by LG Mobile will be webcast LIVE via www.roxypro.com.au
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 15.06, Samantha Cornish (AUS) 12.10, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 11.50
Heat 2: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 15.34, Amee Donohoe (AUS) 12.17, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 9.56
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.17, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 12.03, Ashleigh Smith (AUS) 11.97
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 18.77, Silvana Lima (BRA) 18.67, Megan Abubo (HAW) 6.53
Heat 5: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 14.60, Coco Ho (HAW) 14.26, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 9.16
Heat 6: Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 15.00, Melanie Bartels (HAW) 14.34, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 14.23
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Jacqueline Silva (BRA), Ashleigh Smith (AUS)
Heat 2: Rebecca Woods (AUS), Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS), Megan Abubo (HAW)